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Interview with Kevin Burns, Executive
Producer of "The UnXplained" on HISTORY 8/29/19
I contacted HISTORY about doing an
interview with William Shatner about his new show, "The
UnXplained", but instead, I was able to interview the
executive producer of his new show, Kevin Burns. I wasn't
disappointed because he has worked on so many great shows
over the years, and he had interesting answers to my
show airs Fridays on The History Channel!
Suzanne: You're listed as Executive Producer. So is William
Shatner. Who actually created the show? Who came up with the
Kevin: It was an idea I had been kicking around
with the History channel for several years. After the reboot
of “In Search of,” they approached me and asked if I was
still interested in doing it. I always loved shows like
“Ripley’s Believe it or Not” and “Unsolved Mysteries.” This
is my take on it. As for Mr. Shatner, after he agreed to
host and narrate the show, we had lunch together. He had so
many ideas, and his energy was so impressive, that I was happy
to invite him to join the show as my creative partner. We’re
having a blast.
Suzanne: Once the production
started, walk us through how it was written or put
together...how you decided how many episodes and what each
should be about, any locations scouted, script written etc.
And how long it all took.
Kevin: Initially, the
network ordered six one-hour episodes. When Mr. Shatner came
on board, they expanded the order to eight. Because I
personally oversee the production of nearly 100 hours of
television a year (including "The Curse of Oak Island" and
"Ancient Aliens"), I need a great team to help me. My other
Executive Producer is Rob O’Brien. He was one of my co-EPs
on Ancient Aliens and another series we did called "The
Tesla Files." Rob then put together three 4-person production
teams. Each episode takes about 4-6 months to produce and
edit. This first season took six months.
Suzanne: What made you choose William Shatner as narrator?
Had you worked with him before?
Kevin: I worked
briefly with Mr. Shatner on a series I produced for Fox
called “TV Guide Looks at Science Fiction.” It was only a
one-day shoot. so we really didn’t get to know each other
very well. Nevertheless, I’ve always been a huge fan. We
also share a mutual friend, “Mancow” Mueller — the radio
personality from Chicago. After working with Mr. Shatner on
Ancient Aliens, I had a hunch he’d be perfect for The
Suzanne: Did Mr. Shatner live up
to your expectations for his narration of the show?
Kevin: Mr. Shatner exceeded all of our expectations. After
hearing what he brought to the very first script, I knew
we’d made a great choice. He brought things to each episode
that made the episodes better than we could have imagined.
Suzanne: Do you think there's enough material to
do a second season or more?
Kevin: When I took on
"Ancient Aliens," I wasn’t sure I could come up with more than
five episodes. We are fast approaching our 200th episode. As
for he "UnXplained," we can easily come up with that same
number — hopefully, more!
Suzanne: Have you
received good feedback so far about the show?
People seem to really like the show. I get several
compliments. The best so far is from an actor friend of mine.
He is an atheist but told me that our show on “Life Beyond
Death” gave him hope. He watched it again with his wife the
other night. When a show I do can have that effect, I am
really happy and proud of it. Again, Rob and his team —
along with our brilliant editors — share the credit. It’s a
Suzanne: If you didn't have Mr.
Shatner to narrate, who else would you have considered as
your second or third choice?
Kevin: We really had no
second or third choice. We hope we never need to consider
Suzanne: Why do you think people love these kinds
of shows about the unexplained or unknown? What is the
Kevin: We are all seeking the answers to the
basic questions of life. Who are we? Why are we here? We
live in a wondrous world of mystery. Science and religion
offers some answers — but not all. We are a curious species.
Suzanne: How is this series different than "In
Kevin: Since I try not to watch that show, I
don’t know. I really don’t want to risk copying another
person’s approach. From what I hear, theirs is a bit more of
a personal journey. Zachary Quinto is the traveler seeking
answers. In our show, Mr. Shatner is the “voice of god.” I
guess you could say he was typecast. (Haha!)
Suzanne: You've worked on many alien-related shows like this,
as well as "Lost in Space" on Netflix. Are you a science
fiction fan, and have you been your whole life? Did you
read/watch it growing up?
Kevin: I love things that
are visual — stories that take my imagination to new places.
My three favorite TV shows as a kid were “The Munsters,
“Lost in Space” and “Batman.” Later, I liked "Star Trek"
and, of course, "Star Wars." At their best, these shows work
on metaphorical levels. They operate in much the same way as
mythic journeys. Once you take the viewer into the universe
of their imagination, you can go anywhere. You can explore
life’s greatest mysteries. I guess when I stop to think
about it, I have the best job in the world. And… I get to
work with William Shatner!
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